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March 1987

Complications of Cutaneous Laser Surgery: A Survey

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology (Drs Olbricht, Stern, Tang, and Arndt) and Surgery (Dr Noe), The Laser Unit and the Charles A. Dana Research Institute, Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Dermatol. 1987;123(3):345-349. doi:10.1001/archderm.1987.01660270083020

• We surveyed a selected group of 139 dermatologists and plastic surgeons about their experience with the complications of cutaneous laser surgery. Reported complication rates varied from 0% to 35%, with means of 3.2% for dermatologists and 6.2% for plastic surgeons using the argon laser, and 4.2% for dermatologists and 2.8% for plastic surgeons using the carbon dioxide laser. Hypertrophic scarring was the complication noted most frequently; 69% of physicians using the argon laser and 64% of physicians using the carbon dioxide laser have seen at least one case of hypertrophic scarring. Complications noted less frequently include infection, pain, atrophic scarring, intraoperative or postoperative hemorrhage, and prolonged wound healing. Environmental accidents were few. No procedure-related deaths, ocular damage, or secondary cutaneous malignant neoplasms were reported. We conclude that cutaneous laser surgery has an acceptable risk profile but that complications are not uncommon.

(Arch Dermatol 1987;123:345-349)

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